Custom Learning Systems

Save the Date

The 2019 Service Excellence Conference will take place February 11 - 13, 2019 in St. Pete Beach, FL at the Tradewinds Grand Island Resort


For more information about the HealthCare Service Excellence Conference or Custom Learning Systems, or for media inquiries, please contact Dorian Nottebrock by email or call 1-800-667-7325 ext. 203.

National Symposium on HCAHPS Sustainability

An innovative, practical education, designed to achieve breakthrough and sustainable improvements to HCAHPS Patient Experience Survey Scores arrow

Summit & Breakthrough Awards

Visit to view the recipients of this year's awards. Come back in July to access Summit nomination forms, Breakthrough forms, and information on the TBV (Team Bragging Video) Awards.arrow

Conference Archives

  • Photo Gallery: check out our Facebook page to view the photos from the San Antonio Conferencearrow

  • 2017 Summit Award & Pinnacle Award Recipientsarrow

  • 2017 Breakthrough Awards Achieversarrow

  • 2018 TBV Award Recipientsarrow

  • Watch the TBV Videos from 2018arrow

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5 Star Experience

Hardwire Extraordinary Patient Engagement

Head iconFebruary 2018

The HealthCare Service Excellence Conference is one of the most highly rated healthcare conferences in North America. The conference is dedicated to delivering evidence-based solutions to help hospitals and other healthcare facilities improve the overall patient experience.

The 18th Annual HealthCare Service Excellence Conference is officially done! From the reviews that we’ve gotten in, our overall score of 4.88 out of 5.

The conference is hosted by Custom Learning Systems, a company that provides Service Excellence training to healthcare organizations throughout the US.

Celebrating it’s 18th anniversary in San Antonio, Texas January 29-31, 2018, this conference set itself apart by focusing on Service Excellence with hand-picked, outstanding keynote speakers and overall celebrations of World-Class customer satisfaction. Titled “5 Star Experience: Hardwire Extraordinary Patient Engagement”, the whole conference focused on creating a superior customer and patient experience.

The pre-conference day began with the National Symposium on HCAHPS Sustainability. The purpose of the Symposium is to bring together workers from all areas of a hospital in learning and maximizing skills to improve HCAHPS scores. With focused academies on HCAHPS for Nursing, HCAHPS for Everyone, Physician Communication, CG-CAHPS, and Emergency Department, every attendee received usable tools to take back to their organizations. Closing the Symposium was keynote speaker Marcus Engel. Marcus’s experience in healthcare and personal triumphs gave attendees a motivational boost to kick off the rest of the conference!

Opening the conference was keynote speaker, Lt. Rob “Waldo” Waldman. “Waldo” spoke on his highly-rated topic “Never Fly Solo” which had a 4.9/5 rating from attendees.

Following the keynote, the networking really got underway during the Tex-Mex party. The festivities included the World Premiere of the Team Bragging Videos, which are a 3-minute showcase of an organization’s team building efforts. Attendees voted for who they felt showed the best team spirit. Since the conference was in Texas, a line-dance instructor stopped by to teach the attendees a thing or two about line-dancing. Great energy and fantastic networking opportunities abounded!

You can view the videos HERE.

Tuesday morning opened with speaker David Irvine’s Keynote who spoke on the topic “Caring is Everything: Getting to the heart of Humanity, Leadership, and Life” , receiving a 4.97/5 rating.

Following David were 5 breakout sessions on a multitude of topics relating to Service Excellence.

During lunch, Matt Jernigan gave his keynote speech about “What’s Your Song? Create a 5 Star Experience Through the Extraordinary Gift of You”.

The afternoon kicked off with 5 more breakout sessions with topics such as civility, compassionate care, service standards, and building a collaborative culture of service.

Following the breakout sessions, the afternoon concluded with a keynote presentation by James Robbins called “Reach for the Stars”, which taught attendees how to reach outside their comfort zones. The attendees awarded James an outstanding 4.99/5 rating!

Breakfast on Wednesday began with a session by Custom Learning Systems CEO and Founder, Brian Lee, to let attendees know what new innovations are were coming up at Custom Learning Systems. Some of the highlights included a new Hospitalist training program, the pre-launch of his new book, “Skillful Physician Communication”, the announcement of a new online best practice tool library, and the development of the future ED and Patient-Centered Clinic modules of the Everyone’s a Caregiver App training system.

Next up was a keynote speaker that attendees were humbled to have heard. Derreck Kayongo, founder of the Global Soap Project and current CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights spoke on “Harnessing your Passion and Power to Improve the Patient Experience”.

More breakout sessions completed the final morning of the conference.

Lunch on Wednesday was a celebration like no other. The Annual Breakthrough Awards were presented to hospitals and healthcare facilities who had achieved outstanding and recognizable improvements and achievement on their HCAHPS, patient satisfaction, and star rating scores. Over 200 awards were given out to hospitals throughout the US who engage with the Service Excellence Initiative.

After the Breakthrough Awards, those attendees who had received their Certified HCAHPS Practicing Professional designation were also celebrated for their huge accomplishment.

The afternoon breakout sessions were well attended, dealing with topics such as mental management for elite performers, nursing from the bedside to the boardroom, empowerment in action, and the art and science of connecting, engaging, and persuading.

There was a real treat for the closing ceremonies this year. The GPS girl, Karen Jacobsen, (yes the actual Australian GPS voice and voice of Siri!) taught attendees how to “Recalculate their Way to a 5 Star Experience” and sent attendees off on a high note, literally and musically.

Attendees got a little bit of a break before the Annual Night of Excellence. This banquet really was a World-Class experience. With folks dressed from head to toe in their fancy apparel, it was a night full of glam, class, and exceptional service. The Annual Summit Awards were presented after dinner.

The Summit Award is the highest award of excellence presented at the conference. It is awarded to qualified, innovative, and progressive individuals, teams, and healthcare facilities who have made outstanding progress towards improving the patient experience and staff engagement. Individuals, teams, or organizations must be nominated to be eligible for a Summit Award. 256 nominations from 20 different healthcare organizations spanning 10 states were sent in. Only 15 of those considered “the best of the best” were presented with a beautiful crystal award and certificate.

What conference would be complete without a chance to let your hair down on the dancefloor? Attendees gathered together, singing and dancing the night away.

This conference is a force to be reckoned with. Attendees now have a massive collection of tools and resources to take back with them to further enhance the patient experience in their own organization. What better way to improve your bottom line but to invest in your patients and employees?


The 19th Annual HealthCare Service Excellence Conference is February 11-13, 2019 in St. Pete Beach, FL at the Tradewinds Islands Resort. Don’t miss out!


Here’s what conference attendees had to say about the 2017 event:

“You have the most amazing speakers! I came in thinking I'm pretty good at customer service but these people have a way of making you reach inside yourself and strive to do even better. I feel so blessed to have been able to attend this conference.”
   – Lisa Adams, Sarah D. Culbertson Memorial Hospital

“Thank you for being so supportive to everyone.  I felt just as important as the CEO's.”
   – Janice Stagg, Grand River Hospital

“I loved how it inspired me to go back to my roots and rekindle the fire that I had when I started in healthcare. This was the best conference I have ever attended.”
   – Elaine Wulff, CNO, Harney District Hospital

“The networking, the speakers, the encouragement.”
   – Jodie Thompson, Providence Medical Center

Overall Conference Rating of 4.92 out of 5.0

“All of the keynote speakers were exceptional. Kudos to the organizer of these folks. The reception folks were extremely helpful and welcoming.”
   – Karen Ellis, St. Charles – Prineville

“Everything, it was all great and inspiring, and insightful. Really enjoyed it all.”
   – Sherree Unrau, Meridian Medical Clinic

“Inspirational speakers throughout. Enthusiasm wonderful! Very great mix of speakers.”
   – Ann Howard, Pulaski Memorial Hospital

“The energy of the staff and how everyone was made to feel important and valued for their efforts and input. I really liked the "real life" suggestions and advice offered during the breakout sessions and their applicability to the healthcare environment. It is obvious your team "walks the talk".”
   – Denise Foss-Baker, LifeCare Medical Center

“Empowered me to take pride in the leader that I am, and to take my new passion and ignite new ones."
   – Daniele Wright, Tri Valley Health, Cambridge, NE